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Consecrated Life Mass: ‘You are the bonfire’

new 01 alternate.Sistersgroup2Jubilarians gathered after the annual Consecrated Life Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral Feb. 5. Front from left: Sister Sheila Keane, OP (70 years); Sister Joanne O’Shea, PBVM (70); Sister Janet Harris, PBVM (70); Sister Maria Concepcion, MC (25). Center row, from left: Sister Lucia Lodolo, PBVM (60); Sister Diane Aruda, OP (50); Sister Lois Silva, OP (60); Sister Adele Gerlach, OP (60); Sister Susan Allbritton, OP (40); Sister Joan Hanna, OP (60); Sister Shirley Garibaldi, OSU (50); Sister Patricia Shaffer, RSCJ (60); Sister Clare Pratt, RSCJ (50). Back from left: Sister Angela Furia, FdCC (50); Sister Patricia Ryan, RSM (60); Sister Kathleen Gibson, FMA, (60); Bishop William J. Justice; Sister Dolores Maguire, CHF (50); Sister Dee Myers, BVM (60); Sister Katie O’Shea, CSJ (60); Sister Ann Providence Frassinello, OP (50). (Photo by Debra Greenblat/Catholic San Francisco)

February 9, 2017
Christina Gray

In his homily as celebrant of the annual Consecrated Life Mass on Feb. 5, Auxiliary Bishop William J. Justice likened the women and men religious of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to a campground bonfire that illuminates the darkness, dispelling fear and hopelessness and helping others see the path to God.

“Today we have corsages as a symbol of light, the light you have been and used in your vocation,” he said in a liturgy filled with messages and song about “light” including the words of Isaiah 58:7-10:

“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

“When you look back at history, sometimes the religious orders are the real bonfires, they get the rest of us going, challenging us to truly hear the Gospel,” he said. He noted the work of religious in the archdiocese who care for the sick, the homeless and the oppressed, who free victims of the sex trade, teach our children and care for the elderly “as they await their passage to the fullness of Jesus Christ” and much more.

“All of that is the light you are for us as a Christian community,” he said. “You are the bonfire. In the bleeding light of your vocation to serve the church which is the body of Christ you have helped us continue toward the mystery of God.”

The Consecrated Life Mass honors all sisters, brothers and priests but pays special homage to those celebrating milestone anniversaries, or jubilees. In 2017, 38 men and women religious celebrate jubilees from 25-70 years representing a total of 2,125 years of service.

Sister Dee Myers, BVM, celebrating 60, offered the reflection after Communion, a personal story of her vocation which she linked back to her infanthood when her parish chose her to represent the Christ child as a “live baby” in the church crèche.

Canossian Sister Angela Furia told Catholic San Francisco that her vocation is a 50-year “love story.” She took her final vows in Rome at 19.

“It seems like it was yesterday that I said yes to my God,” she said. “Today I am celebrating his faithfulness to me.” She said it’s been a rewarding life, “more than I expected.”

Next to her, Salesian Sister Kathleen Gibson nodded and smiled. “I’m very happy and grateful to our Lord for my many graces and blessings,” she said.

“My brother once said he had the best brother-in-law in the world,” said Dominican Sister Ann Providence Frassinello, celebrating 50. Sister Ann was a teacher and is director of religious education for Mission Dolores Academy.

Sister Ann said most summers since 1977 she has walked 250 miles from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border to minister to the poor there. The fundraising walk benefitted the Casa de Los Pobres USA, a nonprofit served by Catholic clergy and lay persons.

Bishop Justice concluded the Mass with a message of gratitude.

“It is an honor for all of us because your life challenges us to remember that we are all called to be of service in the ministry of the church,” he said.

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